Separation of Church and State

PFAW: Rick Perry's Prayer Rally, Sponsored by Intolerance

Texas Gov. Rick Perry today held The Response prayer rally, an event he organized with the the American Family Association, a group with a history of intolerance toward gays and lesbians, Muslims, Native Americans and progressives.

African American Ministers in Action Urge Gov. Perry to Denounce Divisive Rhetoric of ‘The Response’ Sponsors

People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action, a nationwide network of African American clergy, urge Texas Gov. Rick Perry to make sure his Response rally brings communities of faith together with prayer, rather than creating divisions based on fear and intolerance.

PFAW Edit Memo: The Response: Rick Perry Jockeys For The Fringe Vote

On August 6, Texas Governor Rick Perry will host The Response, a massive rally in Houston that's being billed as a "a non-denominational, apolitical Christian prayer meeting." But one look at the event's sponsors, participants and promoters tells a different story: that Gov. Rick Perry has aligned himself with some of the most extreme figures on the Religious Right and embraced a troubling sectarian vision for the country.

Gov. Rick Perry’s Extremist Allies

On August 6, Texas Governor Rick Perry will host The Response, a massive rally in Houston that's being billed as a "a non-denominational, apolitical Christian prayer meeting." But one look at the event's sponsors, participants and promoters tells a different story

David Barton’s Christian Nation: Sham ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America

Who is David Barton? A new PFAW report explores the growing influence of the fast-talking, self-promoting, self-taught , self-proclaimed “historian” who is systematically misinforming millions of Americans about U.S. History and the Constitution – and increasingly influencing prominent Republican decision-makers.

Barton’s Bunk: Religious Right ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America

A new PFAW report explores the growing influence of David Barton, a fast-talking, self-promoting, self-taught , self-proclaimed “historian” who is systematically misinforming millions of Americans about U.S. History and the Constitution – and increasingly influencing prominent Republican decision-makers.

2011 Budget Deal Includes Costly, Ineffective and Constitutionally Troubling Voucher Program in DC

In the budget deal reached last week, the GOP used the threat of a devastating government shutdown to push a right-wing priority that has nothing to do with saving money or even with the 2011 budget: re-imposition of a five-year private school voucher program for the District of Columbia, beginning next year.

The First Amendment Only Applies to Christians? PFAW Asks Candidates to Tell Bryan Fischer that the First Amendment Protects All Americans

People For the American Way today asked GOP presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Haley Barbour to publicly tell the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer that the First Amendment applies to all Americans, when they appear on his radio show later today.

Supreme Court Weakens First Amendment

The Supreme Court ruled today in favor of a loophole designed to allow a 6 1/2 foot Christian cross located on federal land in California to sidestep Constitutional protections of religious liberty

PFAW Statement on Rumsfeld and the Misuse of Religion

In response to recent media reportsthat Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld regularly delivered to President Bush top-secret intelligence briefings that featured Bible verses and photos of military personnel and equipment, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan said, "Public officials who portray U.S. policy as a conflict between faiths undermine an essential American principle of government of, by, and for all the people."

Harry Jackson: Point Man for the Wedge Strategy

A report by People for the American Way Foundation examining the political activities of Bishop Harry Jackson, who has emerged as the leading African American voice of the Religious Right political movement.

Obama Chooses Anti-Gay Activist for White House Role

According to media reports today, the White House has invited anti-gay activist and retired NFL Coach Tony Dungy to join its Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Dungy actively campaigned for an anti-gay ballot initiative in Indiana that banned same-sex couples from being civilly married. "President Obama was given a mandate to bring people together," said Tanya Clay House, PFAW Director of Public Policy. "But his selection of Tony Dungy is extremely divisive. Dungy campaigned specifically to discriminate against a particular group of people, and he's been closely aligned with the far-right Indiana Family Institute."

Arizona Supreme Court Rejects Voucher Schemes

The Arizona Supreme Court today rejected publicly funded voucher schemes that send public money to religious and other private schools. PFAW and a group of allies filed suit against the state in 2006, pointing to clear language in the Arizona Constitution that forbids appropriating taxpayer money in aid of "private or sectarian schools." "The Arizona Constitution is very clear on this issue, and I'm pleased that the court recognized that," said Tanya Clay House, PFAW Director of Public Policy. "This is a victory for students, parents, taxpayers, and all those who value religious liberty, as guaranteed through the separation between church and state. Taxpayer money shouldn’t be going to pay for private or parochial schools."

Supreme Court Rules Religious Monuments to be Government Speech

The Supreme Court today ruled that religious monuments on government property constitute government speech in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum. PFAW Foundation President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement: "I'm pleased that the Court today made clear that religious monuments like the one the Summum sought to erect are government speech. I'm especially glad the decision acknowledged that the establishment clause provides a limit on what government can use that speech to say. Government shouldn't favor one religion over another or favor any religion over no religion at all." PFAW Foundation filed an amicus brief in the case.

The 'Big Lie' Strategy: Religious Right Stokes False Fears of Religious Persecution

On February 5, 2009, the U.S. Senate took up an amendment introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) to strip church-state protections from the stimulus bill. The amendment failed 43 to 54 after DeMint repeated the inflammatory claims he had been making all week and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) swiftly and effectively refuted them. The creation of a phony crisis that DeMint's amendment was supposed to solve is a case study of Religious Right leaders' strategic use of false alarms about threats to religious liberty &emdash; and of the willingness of right-wing media and elected officials to play along. Watch now, in the wake of the amendment’s defeat, for Religious Right leaders to use the vote as "evidence" that Democrats are hostile to people of faith and to try to undermine support from religious Americans for the new administration.

Obama Should Stick to Constitutional Principles on Faith Based Programs

President Obama today announced that he will create a White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, but did not use the same opportunity to rescind the Bush-administration policy making it legal for recipients of faith-based funding to discriminate in providing services. People For the American Way is disappointed by news reports indicated that he would ask the Justice Department to review the policy which allows those same organizations to discriminate in hiring.

Supreme Court Rejects Church-State Appeal

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal of a lower court decision which upheld the policy of the Fredericksburg, Virginia, City Council requiring that the official prayers recited at the beginning of its meetings be non-sectarian. The decision came in a lawsuit filed by a member of the City Council, Rev. Hashmel Turner, who claims that he has a constitutional right to offer a sectarian prayer as the Council's official opening prayer. The City Council and Mayor were represented in the case on a pro bono basis by Terence Rasmussen and Robert Rolfe of the law firm of Hunton & Williams and by attorneys with People For the American Way Foundation.

People For the American Way 'Profoundly Disappointed' that Rick Warren Will Give Invocation

People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert responded today to the news that Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church will deliver the invocation at the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama: "It is a grave disappointment to learn that pastor Rick Warren will give the invocation at the inauguration of Barack Obama. I'm sure that Warren's supporters will portray his selection as an appeal to unity by a president who is committed to reaching across traditional divides, but the sad truth is that this decision further elevates someone who has in recent weeks actively promoted legalized discrimination and denigrated the lives and relationships of millions of Americans."

A Student of Uncommon Courage: Matthew LaClair

When Matthew LaClair heard his popular high-school history teacher tell students that only Christians will go to heaven, and that evolution has no basis in science, he knew something was wrong. Unlike most 16-year-olds, he knew it was his duty to do something about it.

Religious Protection Laws in the United States

An historical timeline of state constitutional amendments intended to preserve church-separation, and an overview of recent attempts to revise or delete these protections.
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